What if someone offered you free money – enough to meet all your basic needs, no strings attached, and the only requirement was to answer one question – what will you do now?
This is the concept behind My Basic Income and this theory has been widely tested in the United States and abroad — in rich countries and poor countries, on the wealthy and the poor, on those with homes and those who are homeless.
My Basic Income
My Basic Income is two-fold – to economically and politically create a culture that ensures your financial basic needs are met. Additionally, to philosophically establish a social policy that supports an interdisciplinary platform for its people to contribute in a way that feels non-judgmental and meaningful to them.
My Basic Income is not a bonus system, it is not a ‘new economy’, it is not a revised welfare system – it is simply a theory that makes a commitment to provide a basic income to each and every person that allows for their basic needs (food, housing, and clothing) to be met. It is that simple.
Check out this short Tedx Video
Interested, Not Convinced – Curious, Not Converted
I’ve had the opportunity to learn about My Basic Income these past two weeks and the concept has piqued my curiosity.
My niece just finished visiting from Berlin and recently attended the My Basic Income Conference in San Francisco. She is currently working for My Basic Income in Berlin, Germany. She is a bright young woman, an amazing critical thinker and has the capacity and ability to change the world.
Here is what has piqued my interest about My Basic Income, but first a few qualifiers. Remember, I said I was interested, not convinced. I am curious, not converted.
Yet, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some real quality time with someone in their early twenties who is part of a movement that is willing to look at the world differently, I mean really differently, and this movement is getting people’s attention.
Holding My Attention
What holds my attention is this – the willingness for those supporting My Basic Income to not have the answers, yet be reflective on the research while still discovering the unknowns. This is what a well-trained scientist does – discovers the unknowns.
When I spoke with my niece at length about her program I heard her say repeatedly “…we don’t know the answer to that…but here is what we do know.”
People who have benefited from My Basic Income feel better about who they are as people, feel the freedom to contribute to society in a way that is meaningful to them and generally move themselves to a higher income level. The key to this is they have the freedom to explore these options because their basic needs are met.
What Would You Do With Free Money
Consider this. What if someone approached you and asked, if all your basic financial needs were met – food, shelter, clothing – on a monthly basis and you were free to do whatever you wanted with your time, what would you do? And, equally important how would it feel? Just pause for a moment and let that be true in your mind. All your basic needs are met with no strings attached and the only thing you are required to do is answer one question – now what will you do?
Would you spend more time with your kids? Would you write that book that has been holed up in your heart? Would you volunteer? Would you get an education? Would you travel? Would you work less or more? Would your health improve? Would you worry less and dream more? Would you stay the same? Would you invent something?
All interesting questions, and here is where the other shoe drops.
Now imagine how you might respond if someone told you this was being considered as a social policy. What happens to your thoughts?
I’m happy to share mine.
My mind immediately went to a completely negative and judgmental space. What if people do nothing? Will they contribute to society? Why should ‘they’ get free money? This country already has enough debt and this will not improve anyone’s economy! Why would money motivate them? What if they expected it? This can’t be done–it is too expensive! We already have our safety nets – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, housing subsidies etc. I am not proud to say it, but they were all negative and assuming thoughts.
And here is what I had forgotten.
There was a time in my life when I had a form of unofficial basic income for a year – a dear friend who has since passed (Jim Porter) was also a successful businessman who told me his company could afford to gift me $200 a month. At the same time, another dear friend (Garry Demarest) allowed me to live rent-free with him in his home. And yet again, I qualified for a state program for relocated workers that provided free tuition and books for two years of education.
It is humbling to own the fact, I had been gifted a version of My Basic Income which would later become a tipping point in my life and I had completely overlooked it. I missed the connecting points as to how this generous, loving and no strings attached support allowed me to focus on my studies in a way that became the backbone for my future.
Here is what these gifts did for me.
I felt less stress and less overwhelmed. I felt inspired, encouraged, whole and validated.
I became productive, engaged, creative, active, healthier and empathetic.
I became a leader, a board member, a donor and an entrepreneur. I also became a community organizer, raising tens of thousands of dollars for every community I have lived in since.
So, while I imagine this sounds a little woo woo, consider the economic state of affairs in this country. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and our country is more focused on wealth more than ever before. Isn’t it time we did something radical that has proven effects that can support people in mind, body and spirit that will eventually benefit us all?
Institute of Policy Studies
An article for the Institute of Policy Studies written by Sarah Anderson reported that Wall Street banks handed out $26.7 billion in bonuses to their 165,200 employees [in 2013]. That amount would be enough to more than double the pay for all 1,085,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The Institute for Policy Studies reports that all those dollars low-wage workers spend creates an economic ripple effect. Every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers, standard economic multiplier models tell us, adds about $1.21 to the national economy. Every extra dollar going into the pockets of a high-income American, by contrast, only adds about 39 cents to the GDP.
Again, I’m not saying I am convinced that My Basic Income is the ‘ticket’, but I am willing to support the efforts to help create a space for people to discover who they are, what they can become and how they might spend their time as a part of their community if given the opportunity. Oh, and most likely they will elevate themselves economically from the place in which they started
I know it worked for me.
Learn more about Universal Basic Income:
- What If Everybody Didn’t Have to Work to Get Paid?
- Why the Tech Elite Is Getting Behind Universal Basic Income
- Alaska Bolstered Its Economy and Curbed Inequality—By Paying Everyone Thousands in Oil Dividends Every Year
- It’s time to start talking seriously about Basic Income
Please consider joining me and support My Basic Income with a small donation.
http://joelaguero.com/my-basic-income/ (San Francisco, CA)